Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Besty's 2014

Tis the season for the Besty's. Time has flown by, am I the only one who feels this way? In the proverbial blink of an eye, we are approaching New Year's Day. Before we ring in the new year, I'd like to revisit some of my favorite live performances of 2014. Seeing live music is more like a therapeutic ritual. Concerts are an invaluable presentation of art which unfolds in real time, while being shared with an audience. So without further ado, here are the Besty's.

Marco at The Independent

*Marco Benevento | Independent | 03.29.14

Captivation is a seamless tool for the creations of sound Marco produces. Yearly he makes a pit stop in the Bay area for one reason or another. My favorite's are when it's his show, or his band. This was one of those nights. Masterfully he fuses his ideas into the lush and uninhibited music he is known for, and that I am unwilling to escape from. Does a genre really apply to a talent such as this? 

Witnessing his incredible control, while simultaneously veering into experimental landscapes, shows his understanding and appreciation of the process. Is there a more genuine smile than Marco's in all of music? He never lets you down. On this night there were plenty of eclectic rhythms and idiosyncratic pulses that oozed in all directions. There were a lot of great tracks played and this was perhaps the only show I didn't attempt to write a set list for. With that being said, I can tell you they played RISD, Green Point, It Came From You, Limbs of a Pine, At the Show, Real Morning Party, and If I Get to See You at All. There were plenty of others that have slipped my mind. Catching his show however, is a no-brainer.

Thao at The Castro
*Thao & The Get Down Stay Down | Castro Theatre | 04.29.14 

The SF international film festival hosted Thao and her crew of noise makers for an incredibly unique performance. Live music and silent films—a match made in heaven. What better contemporary music heroine is there than Thao?

'Holy Roller' was partnered with a Harry Smith animated short, getting things started. The next film, "Torture de Luxe," was a laughable exercise film from the 1920's that was the visual spring board for the song 'Body.' The timing of the film allowed for an epilogue in the form of, 'When We Swam.'

In between the vintage silent pieces were Thao's very own Talkies, a sort of Portlandia series of sketches based on her observations and inside jokes, that we would all be privy to now. There were vintage news reels that were extremely captivating when embellished by the sound of live instruments, in an almost Prairie Home Companion type of way. 

My personal favorite of the night was when The Get Down started to play the riffs to, 'Baby Got Back,' while a fitness film from 1928 showed us modern folk what it took to be in shape. It was so F'n cool. The night came to a close with Charlie Chaplin in, "The Pawn Shop." The Stay Down performed four stellar tracks during this 1916 silent film. This was a truly a special event. I felt so good just to have been a participant in the evening. It was a happening. Inspiration was thrust upon us, wanting us to be aware, showing us how to take action. 

setlist: Holy Roller (Early Abstractions 2, 1946-48), Body (Torture de Luxe 1926), When We Swam, The Day Long (Life and Death of 9413, 1928), City, The Feeling Kind (Metrotone News, 1930), Kindness Be Conceived (Early Abstractions 3, 1947-48) & (Metrotone News. 1932), Baby Got Back (Perfect back Contest, 1928), Every Body, Beat, Cool Yourself, We The Common (Pawn Shop, 1916)

Sturgill Simpson | Big Meadow | High Sierra
High Sierra Music Festival | Quincy | 07.03.14

High Sierra served up the perfect schedule on day 1 of this annual shred-a-thon. For a complete review click here. I saw a total of six bands. There were three that really stood out... 

*Sturgill Simpson on the Big Meadow Stage (5:45-7:00)

Lord Huron at the Grandstand (7:00-8:30) 

STS9 also at the Grandstand (9:15-11:30)

*J. Roddy Walston & The Business | Lagunitas | 07.14.14

Right away they blasted the subdued Sonoma County crowd with fiery riffs. They were on a mission to Rock the F out, and they totally succeeded. The Business are best described as sounding like a cross between Jerry Lee Lewis and the guitar shredding rock of the 80's, except smarter and with lyrics that are on point. Did I mention they rock? 

Most of the calamitous action of the night was off of their Essential Tremors record from 2013. There were also some choice cuts from the 2010 Self Titled album. 

setlist: (?), Black Light, Don't Break the Needle, (?), I Don't Want to Hear It, Don't Get Old, Take It As It Comes, Caroline, (?), (?), (?), E: (?), Marigold, (Irish jig ?), Brave Man's Death, (?), I Used to Did, E2: (?), Full Grown Man, (cover)

Steve Gunn | Lagunitas | 08.04.14

This performance exposed me to Gunn's humble persona, as well as his high quality musicianship. He cares about his craft and the songs are his own personal treasures. He cares. Many of the tracks he played were from his album Time Off. His most recent record, Way Out Weather, had not yet been released, but he did showcase some of those unknown tunes during his set. This amazing guitarist and songwriter is a true diamond in the rough. Take some time to explore his work.

Lucius in the crowd at Lagunitas
*Lucius | Lagunitas | 08.11.14

Although there were 5 member in the band, it was all about the two ladies fronting the outfit. Lucius came in and conquered. This was the secret show that Lagunitas decided to leave as a surprise. I hadn't heard them live prior to this and what I had seen/heard online seemed pretty good. But the way they performed was immediately captivating. I was genuinely entertained. Because their music was brand new to me, I only took notes as the show unfolded. A few of my ramblings are as follows...

Cool First track. They went poppy and upbeat. A rock n roll song that made me think of picnics and love. Cool percussive intensity with vocal power (Nothing Ordinary). A stripped down slide guitar number with grimy pop vocals. A late night-style throw down (Genevieve). A modern take on 50's rock (Turn it Around). Encore number one was Strangers! They played nine songs and encored with three more to treasure. They straight finished the audience. Here's a fan-shot video of Lucius covering the Kinks.

setlist: ?, Tempest, Don't Just Sit There, Nothing Ordinary, How Loud Your Heart Gets, Go Home, Wildewoman, Genevieve, Turn It Around E: Strangers, E2, E3

The Uptown Theatre in Napa
Built to Spill | The Uptown Theatre | 08.15.14

A little more than a week later this same downtown would be rattled by a 6.0 magnitude earthquake. This was one of the last performances to grace the Theatre before they closed for repairs due to the damage from the quake. Doug and his gang of Idaho reverb-rockers gave the wine-country attendees a ripping show. They wasted no time in finding their rocking, fuzzed-out groove. Prior to the show I had mentioned that I wanted them to play 'Kicked it in the Sun.' Three songs in I was treated to this amazing track off of Perfect From Now On. Going into the aisle I had to dance. Built to Spill showcased material from throughout their entire career. The encore even had a Metallica cover which was followed by an incredible Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else). They were straight rock'n the joint, apparently causing me to jump around like a mad man. The show was rad and the three of us that escaped to the balcony were treated kindly.

setlist:  (?), Reasons, Kicked It In the Sun, The Plan, Hindsight, (?), (?), I Would Hurt a Fly, (?), Things Fall Apart, Time Trap, Fly Around My Pretty Lil Miss, (?) E: Metallica cover (Orion), Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)

Me & Chris Isaak in Golden Gate Park
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival | Golden Gate Park | 10.04.14

The best free fest in America did it again. Everyone should experience this event at least once. Due to the masses we typically attend the one day that appeals to us the most. That day this year was Saturday. We caught three acts on three different stages, but it was *Chris Isaak who stole the show. Built to Spill and Dave Rawlings Machine played great sets as well. For a comprehensive review click here.

*STS9 | Fox Theater | 11.22.14

The anticipation for Sound Tribe's return to their adopted home (Santa Cruz) was enough to stimulate the hype. The Fox has been their spot in the Bay area for a few years now. They played the night before in Los Angeles, debuting, 'West LA Fade Away.' The Fox, the fans, and the band were locked and loaded.

Sector was firing on all cylinders after a season of touring with Alana. Now their sites were set on blistering the Oakland crowd with dances beats and crazy-cool covers or teases. Things got going with 'New Dawn, NewDay,' a regular since reformation. I didn't mind as they segued into 'Golden Gate'—a sound choice in the Bay area. Next down the pipeline came 'Ramone & Emiglio,' which was old school-esque and nasty. They used subtlety to create anticipation—soft piano keys, solid guitar work by Hunter, and the rhythm section was keep'n shit on lock. Velmer's a machine. At the 5:28 mark R&E went all frenetic until it unfurled into bass-gnarl. Then Phipps, Rocklin and Velmer just owned it. At one point the keys began to sound reminiscent of Bernie Worrell as the song dissolved into an art of story telling. There wasn't time to catch your breath as 'Monkey Music' came barreling down. Near the 6:00 minute mark it got real dirty with electronic effects and thick bass lines. There were some unneeded vocal samples during 'Walk To The Light,' (not my favorite addition). The ride continued as they tore up 'Frequencies Peace 2 > 3.' The first set closed fashionably funk-tastic with 'World Go Round.' 

'Dance' fired up the second set as they teased 'Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)', those listening early on could hear it. Seamlessly they weaved in and out of their own standard, as well as Sly's. A couple of tracks later a sampled voice became too prevalent. I didn't care much for their use of the sample, it took away from an otherwise solid 'Only Light Remains.' Less than half-way through 'Kamuy' the percussionists treated us to a drum driven interlude. It felt like they were tapping into their past. The combination of 'Orbital,' merging into 'Hubble,' was a tactical appetizer for what would happen next. The swirling sounds of 'Abcees' pulsated into a classic cover of 'No Quarter.' At the 8:50 mark they began the rock homage, melding their sound into and around that of Led Zeppelin. They were surgically precise at augmenting their own sound, for that of the rock gods. Anytime you get the Led out you know it's been a party. They would return for an extended 'Circus.'—encoring in an attempt to satiate the Sector withdrawals. 

STS9 | Fox Theater | Oakland
setlist: (1st set) New Dawn New Day, Golden Gate, Ramone & Emiglio > Monkey Music, Poseidon, Walk to the Light, Frequencies Peace 2 > 3, World Go Round

(2nd set) Dance>Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)>Dance, Vapors, Only Light Remains, Kamuy, Orbital > Hubble, Abcees > No Quarter > Abcees > No Quarter > Abcees (encore) Circus

Steve Kimock w/ Bobby Vega, Jeff Chimenti, Dan Lebowitz, Bill Vitt & J.M. Kimock | SweetWater Music Hall | 12.06.14

This show marked my inaugural visit to the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. What an invite. There was an absurd amount of talent on display here. It's also worth mentioning up front that the sound was awesome in this former Masonic Hall. And there bar is top notch too. 

Kimock might be an alien. He's on that rare list of being able to do whatever he wants on a guitar. Vega is also always on point, pressing the envelope while remaining super tight. Together they bring out the best in each other. Throw in Chimenti, a demon on the keys, and those three alone could hold it down for hours on end. Lebo was the icing on the cake. Very few guitarist can co-exist with Kimock and this creative union made sense. Dan would also carry the burden of lead vocals throughout the night, which he handled incredibly well. When an intimate show starts with, 'It Takes A lot to Laugh It Takes a Train to Cry,' all bets are off and anything could be played. Which is pretty much what happened. Jeff and Bobby were locked in from the get go. Steve's vibe felt so pure, as if they had already been playing for hours. Near the end of the first set they treated us to 'Scarlet Begonias.'

The second set opened with the best 'Deal' I've heard in quite some time. Hopefully this show will appear on archive. Jeff could've stole the show leading up to, 'Boogie on Reggae Woman,' but instead continued to be a team player. After '5B4 Funk' they went all yesteryear with, 'After Midnight > Eleanor Rigby > After Midnight.' This portion of the show was fire. They would play more songs, most notably, 'Mississippi Moon.' When one night exposes you to the sounds of Dylan, JGB, The Grateful Dead, JJ Cale, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles, it's a night worth mentioning. Great show, great venue, and a new friend to boot. 


In the spirit of Mr. Salty—the Man, the Myth, the Legend—His top three would be STS9 at the Fox (he's a big fan), Chris Isaak & probably J. Roddy, with Lucius oh so close. The Roo Ratings stamp of approval holds the highest of standards. My favorite shows were preceded by an asterisk.

Happy New Year,

Monday, December 22, 2014

Gene Washington & The Ironsides

On Saturday December 27th, Gene Washington and The Ironsides open up for The Monophonics at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley. Soul music is alive within this band, as are the rhythm and blues. These musicians are a reminder of when you had to have a voice, you had to be able to hold it down on the instruments, and you had to have soul. The Ironsides have all of three. Music like this used to dominate the charts, they're helping to bring back that truthful sound. This event is part of the annual soulful social. The celebration begins on Friday the 26th with Afrolicious opening for the Monophonics. Single night tickets are $20 and the two night pass costs $36. The clip below is from their first single.

Gene Washington & The Ironsides | "Don't Throw Your Love Away"


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bears v. Badgers

Haas Pavilion | UC Berkeley
No it's not a battle of the wild kingdom, but it will be a battle on the basketball court. The Golden Bears host this matchup of progressive state institutions. Stakes are always higher in a nationally televised games (ESPN). Wisconsin, ranked 5th and 6th respectively in both polls, has only one loss (Duke). Cal has knocked off some good competition thus far as well, with their only loss to #9 Texas. Both schools have done a nice job of bulking up their non-conference schedule. This game falls on a Monday (6pm), but for those hoop-heads in the Bay area, this is a can't miss. See you at the B1G game. For tickets click here.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

PUBlication: Six Pack

Beer, it's what's for dinner.
Thankfully I live in a proverbial mecca for excellent craft beer. Amidst the abundance of wonderful suds I have decided to spotlight my favorite oat sodas and barley pops from throughout the year. Some of my selections were tasted at the breweries themselves and others were enjoyed out of the bottle or a growler. The first six listed are my top picks and those that follow are mighty fine too. It's worth mentioning that these selections are not necessarily new, but may have been new to me, while others are regularly available. 

Drink responsibly & enjoy your holiday season.

Tamarack Brewing Co. | Missoula, MT | Nectarine Saison
I was lucky enough to make it up to Montana this year for a beautiful wedding, it was an amazing journey. All told I racked up about 3,000 miles and traveled across some of the most amazing landscapes of CA, NV, OR, ID & MT. While road-tripping I made a point to either amass tasty 22's or stop by at local breweries. Boy am I glad I made it into Tamarack's in downtown Missoula. Their Nectarine Saison achieved the perfect balance by pairing the sour Brettanomyces yeast with the delicate sweetness of nectarines. An absolute gem of a beer.

Magnolia Pub & Brewery | San Francisco, CA | Blue Bell Bitter
Of course I can pretty much access this brewery whenever, which I do not take for granted. It also helps to have one of their Growlers. Magnolia's scene on upper Haight is pretty cool, they have since opened a second location in the Dog Patch. I enjoy their food almost as much as I enjoy this ale. The Blue Bell Bitter is the best bitter this side of the pond. And at 4.5% you can drink your fill.

No-Li Brewhouse | Spokane, WA | Expo Series Noble Hop Extra Pale Ale
This bad boy was the freshest 22 oz. bottle I purchased during my trip to the northern Rockies. I keep wishing it would show up on the shelves of my local grocers. It was crisp and extremely palatable. This extra pale ale was a limited/seasonal release—I got lucky. It registers an ABV of 6.0% and it's IBU comes in at 50. If you ever see this beer, buy it, drink it and bask in its glory. NoLi is my new favorite brewery.

Pelican Pub & Brewery | Pacific City, OR | MacPelican's Scottish Style Ale
During one of my glorious trips up to Eugene I happened to fill up a cooler bag with heady beers from a local market. The Scottish Style Ale from Pelican was down-right awesome. I've never been to Scotland but this (5%) bad boy transported me there with its malty hues and drinkable easiness. There's also a nice little snap to it due to the addition of Willamette hops. I will definitely be picking up more of these the next time I'm in central or coastal Oregon. 

Dust Bowl Brewing Co. | Turlock, CA | California Common
This little session ale hits the spot, especially during California summers. I was fortunate to sip this common on draught and I've been hankering for it ever since. The brewers at Dust Bowl did a masterful job of garnering an ABV of 5.4% with an IBU of 30. There's no denying the refreshing quality of this beer. It translates well if your looking for an ale that cannot be worn out. I want six packs of this to be more present in west Sonoma County.

Stone Brewing Co. | Escondido, CA | Collective Distortion
Mitch Steele, the brew master of Stone, Kyle Hollingsworth and Keri Kelli worked together to create this mean as hell double IPA. Rounding out at a robust 9.3%, you will definitely feel its effects and taste the hops. Speaking of hops, this imperial boasts nugget, comet and calypso, as well as a secret dry hop from Australia. They also tipped their glass to the old-world of gruit, mixing in some coriander and elderberries. Will we see another Collective Distortion in 2015?

Other adult beverages that tripped my trigger were...
~Batch #058 of Russian Rivers' Damnation—damn does this age well. Did someone say Pliny?
~Prairie Artisan Ales of OK crushed it with their Birra Farmhouse Ale. I've grown to love this genre.
~Drakes Aroma Coma was a cornucopia of malts, rye and hops. It's even better on tap.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Sing Me a Song

There were a lot of great records released this year. That creativity spawned numerous songs worthy of making the multitude of lists that laud the best of the best. My personal picks for favorite songs of 2014 are below. They are...

Low Roar | 'Nobody Loves Me Like You'

The Barr Brothers | 'Love Ain't Enough'

Spoon | 'Inside Out'

Sturgill Simpson | 'Turtles On the Way Down'

Jack White | 'High Ball Stepper' (Live | Open'er Festival 2014)

Benjamin Booker | 'Kids Never Grow Old'

Thanks for checking in. Next up will be a list of oat sodas and barley pops.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

So Good So Far 2K14

Philip Johnson | Glass House
What if we lived in a glass house? Well, a lot more of what we do on the daily would be witnessed. So, what if we all shared our music? We'd probably get turned onto a lot more tunes. This is my attempt at sharing. I thought that this year's output of music was great. I realize the industry as a whole will remain stagnate through the never-ending era of digital information, but that doesn't translate into a lack of artistry. For a look at my first round of sound click here. Below are the second set of choices for 2014—So Far So Good.

Spoon | They Want My Soul
They Want My Soul is a wonderfully crafted album from one of America's best, an most unheralded, bands. I really enjoyed this entire effort. "I Just Don't Understand" and "Outlier" are two tracks that haven't been worn out yet. Spoon is back and for further evidence listen to "Inside Out."

Benjamin Booker | Benjamin Booker
His debut album is a self-titled diamond in the rough. This Floridian, who calls New Orleans home, has a firm grasp on shaking roots music to its passionate core. The pace ebbs and flows while he's racing around, the emotion remains full speed. The entire record is a punch to the gut. There are too many outstanding tracks, that I truly love, to name them all. Just cop this record ASAP. If you can't rock out to this...

The Barr Brothers | Sleeping Operator
Sleeping Operator is possibly my favorite album of the year. These two brothers know how to create true art. Their music is Beautiful. I actually feel something while listening to this record. "Love Ain't Enough," mixes its lyrics like a painter into the color of instruments. "Valhallas" is a tale of romance, the west, and the chances that are out there. "Half Crazy" drips in a totally different direction, smearing the edges with slide guitar. The final painting, "Please Let Me Let It Go," washes out the stains, feeling more like a religious ritual than a musical experience. This record is so good.

Clear Plastic Masks | Being There
Right from the start they come for you. "In Case You Forgot" sprints out of the gate, a not so subtle reminder to brace your self. "Outcast" follows and makes me want to dance like Rodney Dangerfield in Caddy Shack. Next is "Baby Come On," a cool, dreamy psychedelic number that cries out, let me come more time. The vocals capably drift to the softer side in "Aliens." A ripping organ-driven instrumental track, "Dos Cobras," is primed for a night on tour. This album is smoking.

Low Roar | 0
Whether it be the soft drumming, or the electric hum of a Casio, Ryan Karazija's truthful lyrics pierce through the swirling ambient warmth. The first couple of tracks get us ready for the heart-felt, "Nobody Loves Me Like You," one of my favorite songs of the year. It's as if he has captured the sounds of the instruments and made them understand their role. His ability to haunt through beautiful lyricism is at the forefront of each melodic landscape. "I'll Keep Coming" feels like a marching army, the listener is confronted by its relentlessness. This record is a journey, reminding me to embrace what I've experienced and to appreciate what I have not. His move from California to Iceland surely played a role.

If I were forced to narrow it down to a top-ten, with a few honorable mentions, my baker's dozen would be: Jack White, Lazaretto | Sturgill Simpson, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music | Ikebe Shakedown, Stone By Stone | Spoon, They Want My Soul | Benjamin Booker, self titled | The Barr Brothers, Sleeping Operator | Clear Plastic Masks, Being There | Low Roar, 0 | Marco Benevento, Swift | Wilco, Alpha Mike Foxtrot
Honorable Mentions: The Apache Relay, self titled | Beck, Morning Phase | Prince, Art Official Age          Sorry Lykke Li, Ryan Adams, Shovels & Rope, Steve Gunn, and Strands of Oak.

The Besty's are coming—my annual list of the best live music from throughout the year. Enjoy the rest of your calendar year. Happy Holidays.


Thursday, November 27, 2014


Happy Thanksgiving! Hopefully everyone enjoys their company while chowing down like a food bag is strapped to your face—god I love Turkey Day. Blessed be the green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy. Seconds have to happen or you'll never get thirds. Have fun and take care. Also, don't forget your comfy pants.

The video below is of The Last Waltz, the final performance of The Band. This footage comes courtesy of The Music Vault and was shot by Bill Graham's crew. Thanksgiving, 1976 style.

The Band | The Last Waltz | 11.25.76 | Winterland | SF


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Unquestionable Supremacy

The city of angels and the east bay each host STS9 before they head down to the Dominican. This Friday, November 21st, Sector plays The Wiltern in LA. On Saturday the 22nd Tribe sets up shop at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Coming off of their first full tour with Alana, it feels as though these shows are primed to get dirty. I'm willing to bet that they drop the hammer on each of these California scenes. Dance moves, stunning visuals and thump-tastic grooves are just a few of the sure fire things to expect from this creative outfit. Be there or be square.  

STS9 | Wika Chikana | Red Rocks 09.06.14


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Opening Act

Sturgill Simpson will be at The Fillmore for three days opening up for the Drive By Truckers. This is quite the co-bill. Beginning on Thursday and running through Saturday, Sturgill will give the SF faithful something it lacks—real country music. His voice is classic and his songs are honest takes on the contemporary trials and tribulations that we all face. If you haven't seen him I encourage you to catch one of these shows. If you haven't heard him, cop his record immediately—Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Not only is he one hell of a songwriter, he seems to be a philosopher too. See him at The Fillmore November 20th-22nd.

Sturgill Simpson | 'Turtles All the Way Down'


Monday, November 17, 2014

TV on the Radio harvests Seeds

Seeds | TV on the Radio | Nov.18th
Brooklyn has undergone a transformation, an influx of money tends to have that effect, and yet, Brooklyn still embodies cool. The same could be said of TV on the Radio. They release Seeds their fifth album November 18th. The band and the borough have experienced comparable growth. Money's been made and spent. Some art cannot easily escape consumption. TV on the Radio has been devoured ever since the Return to Cookie Mountain. Blame them you should not. 

Unfortunately there has been sadness too. Longtime bassist Gerard Smith passed away shortly after the release of Nine Types of Light

TVOTR has also signed with Harvest Records (leaving Interscope). They've managed to wade through expectations, maturing into what they want to be, rather than what everyone else thought they would become. An early gem on this record is, 'Careful You,' which cleverly blends dub-like bass with songwriting. TV chose to jump start the song 'Ride' with soft strings, a piano, and some vibes. After allowing it to warm up they shift into tones we're more accustomed to. The pesky pace and political lyricism of 'Right Now' is reminiscent of their earlier stuff. Reverb hits early and often on the track 'Winter,' reminding us of their rock n roll chops. Seeds deserves more time, it feels good because it harbors their unique sound—they too have their tendencies. For more than a decade I've been a fan, I see no reason why to ignore them now. Besides, they keep me curious. It's worth the unknown to see what these Seeds will spawn. On iTunes and in stores Nov. 18th. Enjoy.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Jenny Lewis Shakes Down

Jenny Lewis and her bandmates have brought the Dead into their set. Last weekend, beginning in Massachusetts, Lewis busted out a "Shakedown Street." The four-piece band that backs her plays a very clean and technically sound version of the classic track. It seems to have found a home within their setlist, they performed it at their next two shows as well.  

It's worth mentioning that she and Ryan Adams have a show together next month in San Francisco at The Masonic (Dec.14th). It seems like the perfect storm for another "Shakedown"—the Bay is the home of the Grateful Dead and Ryan Adams is a Dead Head. Jenny also has a gig in Petaluma on December 12th at the Phoenix Theater. See you at the show.

Jenny Lewis | "Shakedown Street" | Live in Massachusetts


Thursday, November 13, 2014

College Hoops

Williams Arena | Minneapolis, MN | circa 1951
The 2014-15 college hoops season kicks off tomorrow with over 150 games. Nearly all of the top-ranked teams (23 of 25) tip-off. One match-up is actually between two teams from major conferences. The eighth ranked Louisville Cardinals and the Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to the Caribbean. Too bad it's not being played at Williams Arena. Long live the raised floor, an influential presence. This is a B1G night for the coaches as well, father versus son, Rick versus Richard. Pitino night in Puerto Rico. 

Anyhow, this year seems to favor those institutions with an emphasis on team. There are many who are capable of making a run to the Final 4. Squads like Virginia and Wisconsin will rely on savvy upperclassmen and a sound system. Duke, Wichita State, VCU, Louisville, Villanova and Arizona appear primed to go deep into March, especially the two Wildcats (Nova & Zona). Add another Wildcat to the top of the list. Kentucky appears to have a team that could challenge the right NBA team, sorry Sixers and Lakers. Enjoy the Madness.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

San Francisco Opera

Le Bohème | SF Opera | Nov. 14 - Dec. 7th
This holiday season shines a warm spotlight over the talents of the San Francisco Opera, deservedly so. Two beautiful productions are currently running, Cinderella and La Bohème, the latter is also brought to the stage in a family-friendly format on select Saturdays. Each story is told through the music of Giacomo Puccini

What if you were so poor you couldn't pay your rent...And so in love you couldn't care less? The artistic and passionate struggles of 19th century Paris is the canvas of perhaps the world's favorite opera, Le Bohème. There are only 13 performances. (Nov.14-Dec.7th) 

Cinderella's mesmerizing tale comes to life inside San Francisco's War Memorial Opera House. Culturally a part of us, everyone can paint their own picture of this fairytale. (Ends Nov.26th) 


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Nature's Amazing

Chaotic beauty, imperfect perfection, the breathing, evolving vehicle that is Earth allows life to be possible. Thanks for always showing us the way, even if we're not paying attention. We are dependent on a healthy Terra, she has no need for us. Regardless of humanity, this planet would be supremely artistic and dazzlingly magnificent. The videos below showcase this ever-changing magic. Thanks to @mollyproctor and Madison Kotack of the Sierra Club. Enjoy.

Slow Life | by: Daniel Stoupin

Adrift | by: Simon Christen


Thursday, November 6, 2014

30 Days of Dead

30 Days of Dead | 2014 | 
November makes room for 30 Days of Dead—an offering of classic Grateful Dead tunes. These choice selections are made by David Lemieux, Legacy Manager of The Grateful Dead. Those curated picks are then put on for all of us to consume freely. Each unreleased track is straight out of the Grateful Dead vault. Your Deadhead knowledge can also be put to the test. Every daily download offers you the chance to name the venue, as well as the date, for an opportunity to win some Dead swag. Enjoy this gift that keeps on giving.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Lotus | The Gilded Age Tour | 2015
One of my favorite live bands will be making an appearance in San Francisco this winter. Beginning in January and ending in early March, Lotus embarks on an expansive tour that has them all of the country. Thankfully they make some California stops along the way. Between February 18th and the 20th, they will take their Gilded Age Tour to Solano Beach, then LA, and onto the Regency Ballroom in SF. The best part, tickets are only $19.50, if purchased before November 13th.

Their latest studio effort, Gilded Age, draws inspiration from none other than Mark Twain. "The Gilded Age" was describing the Reconstruction Era's thin veneer that masked substantial social struggle—sound familiar? Lotus encourages us to look beyond the erosion in order to see a palace of possibilities.

If you're looking to unwind, or you just want to get down and dirty, don't miss this show. Lotus has always been one of the few bands that never disappoints. They may not frequent the west coast as often, but that only fuels my desire to see them live. Enjoy the title track below.

Lotus | Gilded Age


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Purple Medley

Prince took over Saturday Night Live this past weekend with host Chris Rock. Instead of playing two performances, as is typically done, Prince was given roughly 8 minutes to do his thing. Initially he played keys while sharing vocals on "Clouds." Quickly the mood turned to a more rock driven sound as Prince took up his guitar. He and 3rdEyeGirl charged through "Plectrum Electrum" and "Marz." The last track, "Another Love," was a blend of R&B and rock. Enjoy.

Prince | Live | SNL Nov.1st


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Día de los Muertos

The three-day Mexican holiday known as Día de Muertos, or Allhallowtide, is upon us. Below is a recently released horror film from Arcade Fire titled, Festi. Though it is not directly intended to be an homage to the Day of the Dead per se, it does haunt with intrigue. There are numerous cameos, all of which are credited. Enjoy the mini-movie and your weekend.

 Festi Arcade Fire | directed by: "Noreen Bauble" 


Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween 2014

Happy Halloween. There's always something to get into during this ghoulish celebration. Perhaps you'll beheaded to a concert for some debauchery. Or maybe you're in a costume to pillage goodies. Carving up pumpkins is always an option. Whichever devilish delight it is, have fun and be safe. All Hollows' Eve is one of my favorite holidays. Enjoy.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

NBA Treats

LeBron James
1, 2, 3, Work Hard 4, 5, 6, Together...

That's the rallying cry for this years' Cleveland Cavaliers. It's most likely what every other team will aim to accomplish as well. The NBA season has begun, and like a kid in a candy store, I'll be devouring all the sweetness. The West is still loaded, as many as ten teams will battle for the eight playoff spots. Back East it appears to be a two-horse race. Chicago and Cleveland look the best on paper. The next tier includes Toronto, Miami, Washington & Charlotte, leaving the last two spots up for grabs. Let the games begin. Only in the NBA!



 World Series Champions 2014
Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on winning their third World Series in five years. Dynasty may be the most appropriate superlative. Again, three in five years. This title was won on the road, a great game seven to say the least. Affeldt and Bumgarner were stellar in relief. Mad Bum was ridiculous—21 innings pitched in three World Series appearances and only 1 earned run. Sandoval had 26 hits this post season. Hustle Pence had 22 base knocks in October. This team epitomized team, just as they have done in each of their World Series runs. Big ups to Bruce Bochy, what a leader. The other managers who have won three or more World Series are all in the Hall of Fame. In a sport that drifts through three seasons and endures the truth of 162 games (plus the playoffs), you can see why baseball still has the magic. What a game. What a team. What a way to end it.

Congratulations San Francisco, the Giants are World Series Champions. Viva Gigantes!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Go Giants!

Pence & 'Panda'
Game 7 of the World Series is tonight. And you know what they say about game 7's, anything can happen. The KC faithful are sure to soak in whichever result occurs—the last (home) game of the year. It all comes down to this. Mad Bum has been phenomenal. The two guys in the photo have been pretty dynamic for the SF squad, plus, Buster is due. One GAME for all the marbles. Go Giants!

Tune in at 5:00pm pacific time for the last chance at some good old-fashioned baseball. Game heaven, game seven. Go Giants!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Truck or Treat

The SOMA strEATfood park in SF will once again host the annual Truck or Treat celebration on Halloween. Open daily for lunch and dinner, the trucks have gained a following. There's an abundance of vendors offering up a ton of selections from all over the culinary spectrum that is street food

October 31st is always a party and the pairing of food and music sounds pretty delicious. Street fair takes on a whole new meaning with this event—Truck or Treat III is San Francisco's only nighttime outdoor Halloween dance party. SOMA is sure to be buzzing due to the cast of DJ's, Halloween-only inspired food, beer and drinks, light shows, and spooky movies. For tickets click here. Festivities begin at 7pm and run until Late. Of course costumes are encouraged.

Be extra careful, there are a lot of youngsters out mobbing for treats. Respect all the designated drivers and remember to tip the cab/über driver. Happy Halloween.


Friday, October 24, 2014

What ALES You?

The Great American Beer Festival wrapped up not too long ago and a couple of the winners are close enough to visit, at least over the course of a weekend. With craft beer continuing to grow, almost everyone can now enjoy a cold one from their own neck of the woods. Those of us in northern California are obviously blessed with an abundance of amazing high-end oat sodas and barley pops. 

The next time I'm headed to Tahoe I'll try and blast over to Reno in order to hit up Brasserie Saint James, awarded best mid-sized brewpub and brewer of the year. Showing good taste, Saint James tends to brew a broader range of ales, going against the grain of the west coast's hop obsession. The Pils De Resistance is a lager fermented near freezing temperatures. They produce a Kolsch inspired by a performance at the Cologne Opera House, the Köln Concert. Daily Wages is a traditionally brewed, herbaceous Saison, which won gold for best French/Belgium Saison. And for the warmth of the golden hour there's California Steamin'.  It's only 5.5% and has a surprisingly low IBU of 39, considering they use four different hop varietals. Not only do they create quality beer, their menus look amazing too.  

Long Beach has the other approachable winner. Beachwood BBQ and Brewery may need to update their website (eek), but apparently their crushing it where it counts. Beachwood was named best large brewpub and brewer of the year. Mocha Machine took the gold for best coffee beer and Un Atout won silver behind Saint James in the Saison category. Beer and barbecue is always a good combination. Hopefully I'll make it down to the LBC. Until then I'll be on the look out for these and others while perusing the beer aisle or at the bar of a good tap room. Cheers.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fort Ross

Fort Ross | Harvest Festival | Oct. 18th
Looking for something to do this weekend, that doesn't involve the metropolitan area? I will be enjoying the beauty of Sonoma's rugged coastline at the Fort Ross State Historic Park. Harvest festivals are a autumnal right of passage. There are few settings that can rival this coastal fort established by Russian settlements over 200 years ago.

The morning of October 18th will begin in the historic orchard with the gathering of pears and apples. Then it's onto the windmill, how cool? Throughout the day Draft horse carriage rides will transport attendees, both literally and figuratively. There will also be a traditional field blessing and plenty of storytelling. Make sure to stick around for the firing of the canon at 1:00pm and 3:30pm. Awesome.

The event runs from 10:00am - 5:00pm. For a good portion of that time there will be continuous baking and juicing—with the bounty from the orchard. Be sure to carpool as there is a $20 per car fee. There may even be some mushroom hunting to be had. Don't forget to wear layers and bring cash. Enjoy.


Friday, October 10, 2014


Guess what goes well together? Bikes and Beer. Fairfax, the birthplace of mountain biking, hosts Biketoberfest this Saturday from noon to 5:00pm. There will be 70 bicycle exhibitions, 22 west coast breweries, plenty of tasty edible options, and three Bay area bands playing live music. This celebration of two-wheelers is free. If your affinity for beer overwhelms, you can purchase a bottomless 8 ounce souvenir glass. This interactive event benefits the Marin Bicycle Coalition and Access4bikes. VIP parking is available for those that pedal. Enjoy the weekend—North Bay style.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Third Man Records Telescoping Box & 3 LP's | Vault #22
Third Man Records will be delivering perhaps its most epic vault release to date, number 22. Jack White absolutely destroyed the Bonnaroo Festival this past summer. So guess what? He's reminding us all with an absolutely insane vault-only treasure. This memorable performance will be brought to audiophile life on three LP's. Mixed by in-house engineering guru Vance Powell, the white, blue, and black vinyl will transport us into this two hour and forty-five minute bender.

Third Man has decided to include a full-length DVD of the concert as edited by Brad Holland. Four high-end, collectible 8x10 photographs will also be tucked in carefully. In addition, there will be a Jack White patch, tour poster, and replica backstage sticker. Last but not least, the custom USB with super-secret extras. Not bad for a subscription to The Vault. The deadline to subscribe and still receive this bounty is October 31st.


Monday, October 6, 2014

A Festival for All of Us

Chris Isaak | Star Stage | Golden Gate Park
There's something that happens to our brains when we hear the word free. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is the best free music festival in America, guaranteed. Golden Gate Park has to be experienced. It is an urban American treasure at the grandest scale. Long gone are the days of this event being a secret—it now bends with too many of us...

Now-a-days we tend to hit up the one day that gives us the most of what we like. This tactic is further justified by the live stream feature on the festival's website (couch tour). We chose Saturday. We chose wisely. 

Parking was a bit of a battle, and thus, we missed Deltron. Rumor has it that the 3030 set was hot.

Built to Spill | Tower of Gold Stage | 3:05pm

A cooler full of goodies gave us power for the ensuing Built to Spill performance at the Gold Stage. Idaho's finest began with "Goin' Against Your Mind." "Time Trap" was the track that grabbed my attention most. During the reverb heavy snarl of three guitars, when Doug stopped singing, two Red-tailed hawks began soaring over our heads, talons down and open. Quite the coincidence. A fitting exhibition by nature. Maybe they liked the music too? Built to Spill ended their set with a park-vibe version of "Carry the Zero."

Setlist: 1. Goin' Against Your 2. Liar 3. Time Trap 4. Conventional Wisdom 5. Life's a Dream
6. Joyride 7. Stab 8. Carry the Zero

Dave Rawlings Machine | Banjo Stage | 4:25pm

The perfect timing of the schedule allowed us to walk all the way to the Banjo Stage to catch Dave Rawlings Machine. The Collection of talent was as I had hyped. The set was almost comprised entirely by covers. My personal favorite was Gillian singing, "Wayside/Back in Time." A classic song from the artist herself. The final handful of offerings began when I heard them teasing a Neil tune while picking out the pieces of Bright Eye's "Method Acting." They whittled their way down to a sharpened "Cortez the Killer," my validation. The next song, my other favorite, "Queen Jane Approximately," was almost too much. The Dylan cover was stark and stripped down—a beautiful take on an absolute all-timer. As the denim-clad quintet stepped off the stage I was completely pleased. Moments passed, and then they came back out to inundate us with "Going to California."

Setlist: 1. The Monkey & the Engineer (Jesse Fuller cover) 2. To Be Young (Ryan Adams)
3. Ruby 4. He Will Set Your Fields on Fire (Bill Monroe) 5. Wayside/Back in Time 6. Stew ball 7. Method Acting (Bright Eyes) 8. Cortez the Killer (Neil Young) 9. Queen Jane Approximately (Dylan)
E: Going to California (Led Zeppelin)

Chris Isaak | Star Stage | 5:45pm

The final destination, the serious stuff. Chris Isaak only lives six blocks from Golden Gate Park. He gave us a win-you-over performance, the type that makes you believe. His first cut was a ripping 50's sounding rocker. To follow up, he crooned, "Somebody's Crying." He left his guitar to walk out into the crowd, moving toward me he decided that I was worthy of a ring-laden handshake. I was beaming (photo above). He then preceded to sing two songs out at the corner of the soundboard. He made his mark on tracks that were a skillful mix of crafty language and honky-tonk rhythms. Seven songs in we heard, and gave into, the sounds of "Wicked Game." Sexy should just have this song as its definition. Rocking and rolling with different guitars, he, his amazing suit and his band, transformed a late Saturday afternoon into a Quentin Tarantino-like haze thanks to "Blue Hotel." It had a soundtrack quality, of course aided by special agent Chester Desmond's vocals. Lucky number 13 was "Only the Lonely." Chris is probably the only human capable of attempting that cover. He did it a great justice and even added some squeezebox for good measure. They added some spice with a couple of Latin influenced takes, highlighted by "Ring of Fire." Shifting back into his world, they dazzled with, "Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing." The opening licks to one of the all-time greatest tracks is "Pretty Woman." They challenged themselves to reproduce Roy's classic. Chris Isaak cultivated those songs into his own, which is saying something, at least in my opinion. 'Only the Lonely' kept coming up as we walked back to the car and tried to recite the magic. Thanks, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Thome Yorke's Modern Boxes

Tomorrow's Modern Boxes is Thom Yorke's latest solo release. With assistance from super-friend Nigel Godrich, the album drips in digital-shoe-gazing. Whether or not that was the intention, it feels foggy, but in a good way—like cold, damp mornings accompanied by a cup of coffee. With a playing time teetering at 30 minutes, it can suffice your slow days. Soft key work is thematic throughout. This tendency is apparent amidst the keen vocal timing on "Guess Again," a track that may induce foot tapping. The holding-pattern of "Interference" also applies this sentiment, achieving a calm understanding—I don't have the right to interfere. The bang of a hammer on string once again delivers us into the floating atmosphere of "The Mother Lode." Later this track evolves, gaining with kinetic Hi-hat glitches and a bass drum pulse. It's my favorite... 

Immediately after, it slows again. Tomorrow's potential resides in its ability to harness the waiting. And maybe that's the point, we're always waiting for what's next. Yorke has given us a platform to begin the daily grind from. He's telling us there will be something else. 


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Two 4 One

Prince dropped a double dose on us today. Thanks be to funk. Genius is a word that only applies to a select few of the 7 billion people on earth, Prince is one of them. Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum were released today. The former is a solo album and the latter is with band-mates 3rdEyeGirl. I suggest copping both of these records, so hit up your local record store or do the digital thing. There are flashes of his brilliance on both. Whether it be R&B influenced titles like, "CLOUDS", or bass driven synth-funk hits, "THE GOLD STANDARD"—Mr. Nelson has tapped into his multi-faceted magic. He uses his talents to create new "radio-friendly" tracks in, "U KNOW" and "BREAKFAST CAN WAIT". Then there's "FUNKNROLL" which is totally rocking, makes me want to move, and may not be classifiable. 3rdEyeGirl is funk-rock at its finest, with an ability to push Prince toward his otherworldly talents. There's a lot of material to sift through, have fun and remember to turn it up. Enjoy. 

Prince | "FUNKNROLL" | Art Official Age 

Tune in tonight (9:30pm CT) to watch a free, live stream from Paisley Park celebrating these albums.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Animation Show of Shows

Bang Bang! by: Julien Bisaro
The 16th annual Animation Show of Shows featured nine award-winning animated shorts, as selected from major animation film festivals. Ron Diamond, the curator for this presentation, hosted the event in collaboration with The Hess Collection. These animated shorts totaled a little more than 90 minutes. Art and wine are the two passions always on display at The Hess Collection. Marilyn Myller by Michael Please and Hipopotamy from Piotr Dumala were visually stimulating selections. The video below was one of the most alluring films screened on September 21. Enjoy.

Bang Bang! | by: Julien Bisaro | France


Saturday, September 20, 2014

David Rawlings' new Machine

The additions of John Paul Jones on mandolin (Led Zeppelin) and Willie Watson (of O.C.M.S.) to Dave Rawlings Machine have more than piqued my interest; they've become a must-see attraction for me when they descend upon Golden Gate Park for Hardly Strictly. The magic that has been created by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch is unmistakeable. Couple that with the two previously-mentioned men, as well as Paul Kowert on bass, and anything is possible for this acoustic wonder band. This is a mystifying collection of talent that is sure to please the ears. The Machine will play a total of seven California shows, many of which are at intimate or unique venues. Click hear to see when and where you can catch 'em in the Golden State. Trust me, this is one you don't want to miss.

Dave Rawlings Machine | "Going to California" | Uptown Theatre


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

de Young Modernism

Robert Rauschenberg | Archive (1963)
With the post-war art of Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Mark Rothko, and Frank Stella on display at the de Young, there's no reason not to grace the Museum before October 12. Currently on display is the ground-breaking collection from Robert and Jane Meyerhoff. The (almost) 50 pieces are making an exclusive first appearance outside of the greater D.C. and Baltimore areas. This illustrious compilation of art will be separated into three generational groupings. Favorites of mine in this assemblage of modern and contemporary art are, Johns' Perilous Night (1982) and Rauschenberg's Archive (1963). However, Barnett Newman's Stations of the Cross (1958-66) will likely receive the most attention. The 15 pieces that comprise this series will be shown intact as it was intended in a separate gallery arranged to evoke a chapel.

Beginning in 1985, and culminating in a 1987 agreement, the Meyerhoff family collection will be donated to the National Gallery of Art. Take advantage of this opportunity to witness some of the masters of America's art from the end of WWII through the end of the 20th century. This is an exhibit the West Coast will remember and hopefully embrace. Enjoy.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Hardly Strictly is Heavy Hitting

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass | Oct. 3rd, 4th & 5th
This year's Hardly Strictly lineup is way beyond impressive (only three weeks to go). Those who are willing to brave the masses within Golden Gate Park are sure to be rewarded. It's one of those years where attending all three days could become a reality, in which case you sacrifice some sanity.

October 3rd—I'm excited to see are Ryan Adams*, John Prine, and Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.

October 4th—I will definitely be glued to Dave Rawlings Machine*. I would also enjoy catching Jason Isbell, Chris Isaak*, Justin Townes Earl, and Built to Spill if at all possible. Considering I'll have to post up wicked-early at the stage hosting Rawlings Machine, I'm probably going to be camped at one stage.

October 5th—I will be geared-up to hear Jeff Tweedy* perform with his son Spencer. Bela Fleck and his wife, Abigail Washburn, also play on Sunday.

TBD—Other performers who've yet to announce their day (at time of publishing) are, Lucinda Williams*, Yo La Tengo, Deltron 3030 & the 3030 Orchestra*, Cibo Matto, and The Apache Relay. Be sure to check out the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Below is an audio sampling of what to expect. Enjoy.

Lucinda Williams | "Can't Let Go"

Ryan Adams | "Oh My Sweet Carolina"

Chris Isaak | "Wicked Games"

Deltron 3030 | "Virus"

* those I most want to see.